The Minnesota Twins were the unlikely first team to clinch a playoff spot this season. Unfortunately, they were also the first team ousted. One of the big reasons for their success has been ex-White Sox slugger Jim Thome.
The Chicago White Sox received Jim Thome in the trade for Aaron Rowand. Thome was loved on the south side, but fans still lament the loss of Rowand. Sox fans now lament the loss of Thome, too.
Thome is nearing 600 homers and is only 39. He will certainly be back next season and maybe even more.
My nephew Matt and I ran into Thome last season in the underbelly of the MetroDome. We saw him tossing the medicine ball against a wall and catching it while twisting. This was about 4 hours before the game. We didn't go for an official interview, because we saw how hard he was working out. He did greet us and we shared a quick greeting.
This season, my friend Chuck approached Thome in the dugout at Target Field. Chuck landed a quick interview with Thome and ended by thanking him for his time in Chicago.
Matt, Chuck and I all walked away from Thome feeling that we just talked to a genuinely great guy. One day he will be in the Hall of Fame and that will be a great moment. In a world of egos and self-importance, Thome is everything you'd want in a ballplayer (and a person).